Runners need strong hip and buttock muscles for injury-free runs

SINGAPORE - He may not be a dance instructor but, for a large part of Sunday morning, Nelson Chong had over 40 runners doing the "twist" in his gym studio.

The fitness trainer, who was conducting the final instalment of The Straits Times' Run In The Park training clinics, was teaching the participants the importance of having good core strength.

A large part of that, the 43-year-old explained, is having strong hip and buttock muscles.

With better hip stability, a runner's spine and knees will align themselves into an efficient running position which helps prevent injuries, he said.

Added Chong who has 15 years of coaching experience: "Your hip is a rotator muscle. With strong buttocks, every step that you land while running, you can stabilise your thighs - which reduces unnecessary stress on your knee caps.

"Because your position is rigid and stable, your (running) technique does not go 'wonky'."

The trainer said he has seen many cases of runners with knee and ankle pains who have gone to seek various treatments, like using ointments and compression wear, but to no avail.

The solution, he believes, is to awaken and strengthen the buttock muscles.

He said: "I see many runners with strong and muscular legs but they still have knee problems, because it's the buttocks that have been under-utilised."

His two-hour lesson at his gym, Functional Training Institute in Queen Street, was well-received by the participants.

Said Arthur Koo, 37, who will be taking part in the 10km segment at the ST Run In The Park event on Aug 25 at the Punggol Waterway: "I'm going to practise some of the things that he taught us and hope that it will improve my run.

"He talked to us about muscles that I have never really used before and it made me realise that I have been concentrating on the wrong muscles."

For another participant, Jane Chiew, the lessons came in handy as she once suffered a left-knee injury which put her out of action for six months.

Said the 43-year-old IT manager: "It's very informative. I've learnt how to activate my glutes and strengthen the backside muscles.

"It's actually not the knee muscles that I have to fix but higher up - the glutes."

Added Chong at the end of the class: "The participants were very engaging. After talking to them, I've found that many had problems which can be addressed easily.

"Run pain-free. That's the message that I want to spread to all of them today."

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